The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 21, 2013

Krohn: Catalog worth browsing, but no career op


The Mankato Free Press

---- — I got a catalog here at work that at first glance seemed incredibly uninteresting. Just pages and pages filled with columns of small print — no photos, no art.

But the "Summer 2013 Donor Catalog" from California Cryobank turned out to be an interesting collection of profiles on about 1,000 men who donate sperm.

I didn't know there were catalogs to shop for sperm, but I guess it makes sense. A woman wouldn't want to grab a random vial of sperm out of the freezer section at a grocery store only to find out a couple of years later her baby looks like the comedian Carrot Top with the IQ of boxer Mike Tyson and the personality of Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The guys listed here all seem top notch. Most have light brown or blond hair, they're all 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-3, weigh 160-190 pounds, are in their late 20s or 30s and have fair to medium complexions. And they're educated. All have at least college degrees and many have graduate degrees. Donor banks seek men with graduate degrees because people will pay a premium for Ph.D. sperm. Ivy League Ph.D. even better.

The areas of study of the men is rife with international business, biochemistry, computer science, biology, music, engineering and mathematics.

I suppose it's not difficult finding men to get paid for what they don't mind doing anyway. The money is OK, with donors reportedly paid about $50 and up for each sample.

It doesn't look like the promising second job I've been looking for, though. Nowhere in the catalog did I find listings for 53-year-old donors who work at a newspaper, list their favorite food as Cheetos and cite their top intellectual achievement as "once finishing a Jumble puzzle without assistance."

"Sperm donor" is kind of an odd description because a donation is a selfless act where your don't expect anything in return. But "sperm merchant" would sound kind of creepy I guess.

Some of the donors are actually listed as "Sold Out" or "Temporarily Sold Out." Apparently, some donors are so in demand that they literally can't keep up as they are allowed to donate only once a week.

The growing popularity of sperm donations is causing some unforeseen and awkward problems. There is no limit on how many children one donor can produce. In Australia, one man's sperm produced 29 children, most of who live in one city, are roughly the same age and who are, of course, unaware they have the same biological father. Some public health experts say it's likely that situations like that will inevitably lead to "accidental incest." (Insert your own Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas joke here.)

Being a sperm donor today might not be a good idea anyway. In a Kansas case, the state is going after a sperm donor for child support after the lesbian couple he donated to broke up and one lost her job and the other sought financial help from the state. The case is in the courts.

I guess I'll keep looking for that perfect second job, something that I can turn into a first job if the newspaper industry goes the way some fear. And I want something without a lot of competition.

I'm thinking VCR repair.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6383.